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DMR Home > Species Info > Whales > DAM November 8, 2007

NMFS announces that lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen must comply with required gear modifications (see below) in a Maine DAM zone, November 8 - November 22, 2007

(from E-mail dated Nov. 2, 2007)

Dear ALWTRT Member or Interested Party:

On October 26, 2007, eleven Northern right whales (right whales) were sighted in the proximity of 43º 24' N latitude and 68º 21' W longitude, southeast of Portland, Maine, which resulted in NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) taking action under the Dynamic Area Management (DAM) program to provide protection for this aggregation of right whales.

NMFS announces that lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen must comply with the required gear modifications (see below) in an area southeast of Portland, Maine, effective 0001 hours November 8, 2007, through 2400 hours November 22, 2007. The regulations apply to lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen in an area totaling approximately 2,031 square nautical miles. Once effective, all anchored gillnet and lobster trap/pot gear must comply with the gear restrictions required to continue fishing in a DAM zone for the restricted time period. In addition, NMFS requires that no additional gear be set in the DAM zone during the 15-day period unless that gear has been modified accordingly.

The coordinates for the DAM zone effective from 0001 hours November 8, 2007, through 2400 hours November 22, 2007:

43º 52´ N., 68º 51´ W (NW Corner)
43º 52´ N., 67º 59´ W
43º 46´ N., 67º 59´ W
43º 46´ N., 67º 50´ W
43º 05´ N., 67º 50´ W
43º 05´ N., 68º 47´ W
43º 12´ N., 68º 47´ W
43º 12´ N., 68º 51´ W
43º 52´ N., 68º 51´ W (NW Corner)

A permit holder letter including the DAM zone coordinates and restrictions will soon be posted on the ALWTRP website (http://www.nero.nmfs.gov/whaletrp) under “What’s New.” An outreach supplement showing the DAM zone overlayed onto a Nautical Chart will be also be available shortly. NMFS will be notifying the public of the DAM zone by issuing radio announcements, working through appropriate media, distributing the permit holder letter to affected fishermen, as well as other means. As an ALWTRT member or interested party, NMFS appreciates your assistance in spreading the word about the DAM zone and its gear restrictions.

To obtain the DAM regulations in their entirety, please call 978-281-9300 x6505. In addition, these regulations are available by accessing the ALWTRP web page (http://www.nero.nmfs.gov/whaletrp/) and going to “The Plan” and “Elements of the Plan.” If you have any questions regarding these regulations, please call 978-281-9300 x6505 or the ALWTRP Coordinator at the number below. If you have questions about the gear requirements for this DAM zone, you may also contact John Higgins ( or 207-677-2316).

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Diane Borggaard
Large Whale Coordinator
NOAA/NMFS/NERO Protected Resources Division
1 Blackburn Dr.
Gloucester, MA 01930
Ph: 978-281-9300 ext. 6503
Fax: 978-281-9394
e-mail:

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DAM Program Gear Requirements

In addition to those gear modifications currently implemented under the ALWTRP at 50 CFR 229.32, the following gear modifications are required in the DAM zone. If the requirements and exceptions for gear modification in the DAM zone, as described below, differ from other ALWTRP requirements for any overlapping areas and times, then the more restrictive requirements will apply in the DAM zone. Please note that the below provides a summary of the DAM Program gear requirements and is not a substitute for the ALWTRP regulations.

Lobster Trap/Pot Gear

Fishermen utilizing lobster trap/pot gear within the portions of Northern Inshore State Lobster Waters and Northern Nearshore Lobster Waters that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all of the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect:

  1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited;
  2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line;
  3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per trawl; and
  4. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 600 lb (272.4 kg) must be placed at all buoys.

Fishermen utilizing lobster trap/pot gear within the portion of the Offshore Lobster Waters Area that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all of the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect:

  1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited;
  2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line;
  3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per trawl; and
  4. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 1,500 lb (680.4 kg) must be placed at all buoys.

Anchored Gillnet Gear

Fishermen utilizing anchored gillnet gear within the portions of Other Northeast Gillnet Waters Area that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect:

  1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited;
  2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line;
  3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per string;
  4. The breaking strength of each net panel weak link must not exceed 1,100 lb (498.8 kg). The weak link requirements apply to all variations in net panel size. One weak link must be placed in the center of the floatline and one weak link must be placed in the center of each of the up and down lines at both ends of the net panel. Additionally, one weak link must be placed as close as possible to each end of the net panels on the floatline; or, one weak link must be placed between floatline tie-loops between net panels and one weak link must be placed where the floatline tie-loops attach to the bridle, buoy line, or groundline at each end of a net string;
  5. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 1,100 lb (498.8 kg) must be placed at all buoys; and
  6. All anchored gillnets, regardless of the number of net panels, must be securely anchored with the holding power of at least a 22 lb (10.0 kg) Danforth-style anchor at each end of the net string.